A protest was held outside the Sindh Assembly on Sunday against the alleged abduction of two Baloch students of the University of Karachi (KU) by law enforcement agencies.
Relatives and civil society organisations had set up a protest camp outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) for the last two days and on Sunday evening, they took out a rally from the KPC to the provincial legislature.
Several protesters, including women and children, removed temporary barriers erected by the police at Arts Council Chowrangi and managed to stage a sit-in outside the main gate of the assembly.
South-SSP Asad Raza told Dawn that around 60-70 protestors led by Aamna Baloch, Seemi Din Mohammed Baloch, Abdul Wahab Baloch, Varsa Pirzada and others started marching from the KPC.
The senior officer said the police did not take any action as the protesters were mostly women and children. He said the authorities were negotiating with the protesters to persuade them to end their sit-in outside the assembly gate as the budget session was expected to take place on Monday evening.
SSP Raza said the protesters claimed that two Baloch students at KU had allegedly been taken away by the police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD). However, the CTD denied detaining any student.
Addressing the gathered crowd, relatives and activists said that two students of the KU’s Philosophy Department — Doda Baloch and Ghamshad Baloch — were taken away from their home near Maskan Chowrangi in Gulshan-i-Iqbal on June 7 and their whereabouts were unknown since then.
They said if the two students were involved in any illegal activity then they should have been arrested by showing an arrest warrant; instead, they were whisked away forcibly at night from their homes, which was "unacceptable".
The speakers at the protest said that people from the Baloch community had been subjected to "executive high-handedness" and questioned what their fault was. They said that if the missing persons were involved in any criminal activity and cases were registered against them then they should be presented in courts.
The protesters said that they had held demonstrations for the release of missing people but authorities had not acted on their demands.
They questioned what crime the two KU students had been detained for and demanded their release as well as that of other missing persons.
One of the speakers, Saeeda Zehri, said that her father, Abdul Hameed Zehri, was taken away from Balochistan around 14 months ago and his whereabouts were still not known. She recalled that her family had met with intelligence agencies personnel who told her that her father was "apparently a nice person" and had no criminal record. She said she wanted to know why her father had been taken away when he was not involved in any criminal activity.
Meanwhile, Aamna recalled a recent protest when several protesters were detained from the KPC as they attempted to proceed towards the chief minister’s house. She said the police had committed an "illegal action" at that time, adding that the police were demonstrating the same attitude today as well. She announced that the sit-in outside the assembly gate would continue till the release of the missing KU students and others.